Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Spitty Baby: how to deal with a baby who spits up – a lot

Does your baby spit up a lot? I mean A LOT? The kind of spitting up that gets all over your baby, you and whatever is within a 3 foot radius? Do you have to change your baby’s clothes several times a day? Do you have to change YOUR clothes several times a day? I did, and I’m here to tell you how to get through it.

Both of my babies were major spitters. My daughter spit up 30 times a day, easily. She was mostly breastfed, but I supplemented her with formula when I felt like she was spitting up more than I could produce. I used that thick formula that is supposed to help with spitting up. The spit up only came up thicker. We even started solids early, at 4 months, in hopes that would help. Nope, then it came up in Technicolor. I have a great picture of her in mid-spit. My husband just happened to click the camera at just the right time and there’s a freeze framed mini-waterfall of spit up running out of her mouth. And she’s oblivious. The very next shot is of me wiping her chest and face with an annoyed look on my face. That pretty much sums up our spitting experience.

First the disclaimer: gastric reflux is common in babies. Sometimes it is more of a nuisance then anything else, but sometimes it could be very painful for the baby. If your baby spits up a lot and cries when it happens, be sure to contact your pediatrician.

Spitting up is unavoidable. If your baby is a spitter, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Even gastric reflux medication won’t stop it, it will just ease the pain. So, here are some things that helped me, and hopefully they will help you.
  • 1) Breastmilk spit up stinks less. It’s true. So does breastmilk poop. And breastmilk spit up stains a lot less. Formula will not change how much your baby spits up. Your baby spits up because your baby spits up.
  • 2) Baby spit up has a unique smell. It’s sour milk, but different than what you might smell from that milk container that’s been in your fridge for too long. All moms know that smell and are accustomed to it. Don’t be embarrassed if you smell like spit up, or if your baby does.
  • 3) Burp rags. Make sure you get burp rags that are very absorbent. Some good ideas are cloth diapers and terry cloth rags. You can also use some of those soft cotton receiving blankets.
  • 4) Clean baby clothes. If your baby spits up as much as mine did, then it’s not very realistic to change their clothes every single time they get spitty. However, having a clean shirt available to put on the baby once or twice a day will help keep the “ick” factor down. This is especially important when you’re out and about.
  • 5) Clean clothes for you. You’re going to get spit up on you. Carry around an extra T shirt so you can change if you need to.
  • 6) Some people are just grossed out by spit up. Show them it’s normal and natural by handling it. When baby spits up, take it in stride. Shrug your shoulders and silently gripe about it. What bothered me the most when other people were looking at or holding my children is that they would freak out and act like my baby just spit up corrosive acid. It made me feel bad. When they saw that I wasn’t bothered by it, they didn’t react so harshly.
  • 7) This too shall pass. Both my kids were pretty spitty for the first six months, then they started to settle down. The spit up was gone by about nine months. Nine months seems like a long time when you’re living day to day, but soon you’ll look back and think “wow, it’s been nine months already?”
The bottom line is your baby spits up. Don’t let it keep you at home because you don’t want to deal with spit up out in public. Don’t get upset by it. There’s nothing you can do but gather what you learn, pick up some new hints and pass it on. Enjoy that baby, spit up and all.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes, I had a spitter!
    It lasted for about six months or so, when his stomach muscles started strengthening from trying to sit up.
    It shall pass, while it's happening, it can certainly be tough. But I had about three dozen cloth diapers that I used each day and we just took it in stride.
    I certainly didn't let it stop us or we would have been at a "stop" for months! It's not illness, it's not hurting them, it's just their body adjusting to life.
    Eventually it will end AND, SOMEHOW, they grow, thrive, and get stronger!